Privately employed seasonal workers fight to keep unemployment - CBS46 News

Privately employed seasonal workers fight to keep unemployment benefits

Posted: Updated:

Deon Brooks loves driving a school bus.

"I love my job. My job is absolutely amazing. I love seeing the kids," Brooks said.

From August through May Brooks picks up and drops off students from a local charter school.

"When the kids are here, those are our kids. When they get on the bus they're family to us," Brooks said.

Once the school year is over, however, the paychecks stop and Brooks struggles to find another way to pay his bills.

"In just three months no one wants to hire you if you're leaving again," Brooks said.

Like many other seasonal workers Brooks collects unemployment benefits to make ends meet.

"Without those checks, some of us literally become homeless," Brooks said.

A Georgia House committee, however, approved a bill that would eliminate benefits for Brooks and about 60,000 other seasonal workers.

State Rep. Mark Hamilton, who introduced the bill, said many companies pay seasonal workers at lower wages than public school districts pay their employees.

Hamilton said since employers pay to keep the unemployment system going companies that hire seasonal workers then encourage them to collect unemployment are taking money out the pockets of other businesses.

"About $10 million," Hamilton said. "We have several employers that are gaming the system."

"I completely understand that statement. But it's the companies. It's not us as individuals," Brooks said.

Cutting off unemployment, Brooks said, would unfairly punish seasonal workers.

"We work as hard as people who work year-round. We work with their children. We make sure safely they get to and from at all times," Brooks said.

The bill is set to go to the full House for debate on Monday.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.